Meeting everyone’s educational needs with a single course: Can we even do that?

March 12, 2013 at 1:35 am 6 comments

Probably lots of people have now heard about the professor who walked out on his Coursera MOOC.  What I found striking was Irvine’s response.  They suggest that the course was just fine and would meet the needs of just about everyone, from those who just wanted a taste to those who wanted a serious education.  What we know aptitude-treatment interaction suggests that that’s not possible.  A single course, with no personalization, is unlikely to meet the needs of tens of thousands of students.

Irvine officials, however, “felt that the course was very strong and well designed,” he said, “and that it would, indeed, meet the learning objectives of the large audience, including both those interested only in dipping into the subject and those who were seriously committed” to completing the course.

via Professor Leaves a MOOC in Mid-Course in Dispute Over Teaching – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron Lanterman  |  March 12, 2013 at 2:32 am

    A single course, with no specialization, is unlikely to meet the needs of a hundred students. If you’re lucky, it might meet the needs of a dozen.

    This is not MOOC-specific.

  • 4. Martijn Stegeman  |  March 12, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Online courses seem to be no exception to Gartner’s hype cycle. It is not at all hard to see what phase MOOCs are currently in.

  • […] A new study supports the concern that MOOCs are a particularly poor fit for underprepared students, the ones most likely to be taking remedial courses. It relates to the issues raised yesterday about the difficulty of covering all aptitudes and backgrounds with a single class. […]

  • […] There’s a perspective that says that this view is “patronizing,” and continuing an “us/them” perspective. I believe in tailoring for different audiences, but that doesn’t imply superiority of one audience over another audience.  The key idea in my work is that one size does not fit all for computing education. In our CS classes, we often make the mistake of assuming that what works for some percentage of our class is good enough for everyone, and if some don’t succeed with that approach, it’s their fault. There is evidence to believe that different students succeed best at different approaches, e.g., that there are aptitude-treatment interactions,. Cognitive science has told us for decades that students’ prior background influences how and what they learn. Our Media Computation approach improved the success rates of liberal arts students at Georgia Tech, from a less than 50% success rate to an 85% success rate.   I don’t believe that my liberal arts students are superior to my CS students, or vice-versa, but I do believe that each group has different goals and succeeds best with different approaches.  I’m concerned that pushing for open access is making the same mistake that we keep making in CS — if it works for us, it’s good enough for them, so just give it to them and let them figure it out.  (Kind of like MOOCs.) […]


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